News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Incontinence Is Now Reason To Die Of Embarrassment


Incontinence Is Now Reason To Die Of Embarrassment

When people lose control of the ways their bodies can eliminate food wastes they join a large percentage of the population with continence problems.

At least one in three adult New Zealanders have some degree of incontinence, although experts say it is widely under-reported and studies suggest that under-reporting may be as high as 60%.

This week (26 Nov – 1 Dec) 1500 delegates from 50 countries representing healthcare disciplines such as urology, obstetrics and gynaecology, geriatrics, neurology, nursing, research sciences and physics have been discussing these basic issues at the International Continence Society’s 36th annual meeting in Christchurch.

Christine Norton, Professor of Gastro-intestinal nursing at St Mark’s Hospital in London, gave a keynote speech about managing faecal incontinence in adults. She was the first continence nurse specialist in the UK and founder member for the Association for Continence Advice.

She said that it’s not surprising there is such a high incidence of faecal incontinence when our diets are based largely on refined processed foods. It is a common problem, but inadequately understood condition, with a lack of accepted standardised terminology, no good random control tests to support treatments and little published evidence for good practical management.

The causes are often a complex interaction of many things – constipating drugs, poor diet, not enough water intake, metabolic disorders, poor dental care, confusion, dementia, depression, and bowel cancer.

“It’s a common condition in the frail elderly and in rest homes where more than half the residents suffer from it to some degree. Maintaining good bowel function is the cause of much anxiety in older people, and taking up residence in such an establishment has been shown to increase the rate of faecal incontinence by 20% in patients after 10 months of arrival.”

Prof Norton said one UK study found a huge range, from 95% of patients in one establishment to as low as 20% in another. “The level of care is important including the choice of diet, mobility and being toileted frequently.”

Prof Norton said people often felt uncomfortable discussing symptoms. A recent UK campaign was based on the slogan “Don’t die of embarrassment”. She said a major message is to ask about any bleeding, and not to assume bleeding is caused by piles.

‘It’s possible to have too much fibre in the diet as well as too little. And there’s no need to drink large amounts of water because the kidneys regulate the fluid balance and just excrete more as a response to increased water intake. There is a lot of nonsense talked about water intake. It doesn’t cause a patient to open their bowels any more often; it just makes them urinate more. Caffeine and alcohol act as bowel stimulants.”

Bowel malignancies are the second most common cancer in most western populations and increase with age.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Reuben Moss' Property is Theft! & Kaitani at The Physics Room

Property is Theft! continues Moss’ interest in the contemporary urban environment as a space controlled by pulsing and unequal flows of capital and labour. Kaitani features work by the University of Canterbury Fijian Students Association and Kulimoe’anga Stone Maka. More>>

Handcrafted Form: Rare Treasures From Japan

This unique exhibition at Expressions Whirinaki represents 90 everyday objects made by contemporary Japanese artisans who employ various traditional craft techniques made in regional workshops. The works used in daily life are crafted from raw materials with techniques appropriate to bringing out the best of its medium, balancing ease of use with aesthetic appeal. More>>

Howard Davis Article: A Musical Axis - Brahms, Wagner, Sibelius

Brahms' warm and exquisitely subtle Symphony No. 3 in F major, Wagner's irrepressibly sentimental symphonic poem Siegfried Idyll, and Sibelius' chilling and immensely challenging Violin Concerto in D minor exemplify distinct stages of development in a tangled and convoluted series of skirmishes that came to define subsequent disputes about the nature of post-Romantic orchestral writing well into the following century. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: A Pale Ghost Writer

Reviewed by Ruth Brassington, Richard Flanagan's new novel is about a novelist hastily ghost-writing the biography of a crook about to go to trial. The reader is kept on a cliff-edge, as the narrator tries to get blood out of his stone man. More>>

New Zealand Wars Commemoration: Witi Ihimaera's Sleeps Standing Moetū

The second of several articles to mark Rā Maumahara, remembering the New Zealand Land Wars. The first was a Q&A with Vincent O’Malley, author of The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800–2000. More>>




  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland